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Slick Three Corners marketing pitch looks to woo investors

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of September 28, 2023)

City leaders hope a new video and brochure marketing Vero’s Three Corners development opportunity will attract the interest of top investors with deep pockets.

In August, the Vero Beach City Council hired Colliers International to create a marketing campaign for its much-anticipated Three Corners project because the Canada-based global real-estate services firm was so highly regarded and well connected in the commercial development community.

Vero Beach Planning Director Jason Jeffries believes Colliers has the reach and the reputation to make the right connections happen. “It’s a very clubby industry,” Jeffries said last week. “Everybody knows each other, and everyone in the industry knows Colliers.”

Thus far, city officials are thrilled, having viewed Colliers’ recently completed digital brochure and video that introduce potential developers to Vero Beach and its grand plan to create a dining, retail, social and recreational hub on the mainland’s waterfront – at the west end of the 17th Street Bridge.

The two-minute video, much of it shot from a drone, provides a variety of aerial views of the 33.7-acre property that currently contains the city’s decommissioned power plant and still-functioning wastewater treatment facility, as well as a Florida Power & Light substation occupying a section of a small, off-the-water parcel across Indian River Boulevard.

The accompanying 44-page brochure does the same, but in greater detail, adding maps of the Three Corners site and surrounding areas, renderings of development possibilities and detailed information pertaining to the project.

“It looks really good to me,” Jeffries said. “I like the graphics and the way the information is being presented. It contains the elements commercial developers and investors want to see.”

Mayor John Cotugno, too, said he was impressed with the brochure, adding, “It was very well done, very professional. From a marketing standpoint, I thought everything we want to accomplish was well presented. It should produce a good response.”

Cotugno said city officials are hoping to receive proposals from at least six developers, “and we’d welcome more.”

Ken Krasnow, Colliers’ vice chairman for institutional investor services in South Florida, said Sunday the initial response to the brochure was promising, despite being in the market for only 10 days.

That’s good news, as only three people other than city staff and paid consultants attended an informational session put on for developers and investors earlier this month. The meeting was not mandatory for those planning to submit proposals, and the identities of the three “financial advisors” present, or who they represented, is not public knowledge.

“We’re hearing from people who want to engage with us and learn more about the project,” said Krasnow, an island resident who handled the firm’s pitch to the City Council last summer.

“We’re also reaching out to a lot of people, proactively – to people who might not be doing business in Florida or don’t know Vero Beach,” he added.

“The way to get people’s attention is to tell them a story and make it compelling enough that they’ll want to engage.  We’re doing that by using visuals to show them the scale of the development site, which is attractive, and that waterfront is a commodity.

“We’re showing them that this is a unique opportunity.”

Krasnow said the brochure and video also highlight the demographics of the Vero Beach community, including its affluence, and the area’s strong demand for more retail and restaurants.

Colliers’ headquarters is Toronto, but its U.S. operations are based in New York. Thus, Krasnow said, the firm is marketing the project regionally, nationally and internationally.

In addition to a profile of the property, which is divided into three parcels to be used for different purposes, Colliers’ brochure provides potential investors with a development guide – based on a concept plan approved by the City Council last year – and an overview of the city.

The brochure also includes a summary that states the city is seeking “favorable terms” in a long-term lease to be negotiated with an investor that has “significant experience” in developing and operating hotel and resort amenities, and with expertise in mixed-use developments that include retail, restaurants, waterfront activities and public amenities.

In November 2022, Vero Beach voters approved a referendum to change the city’s charter to allow commercial development on the 17-acre power plant property, north of the bridge.

The city also plans to relocate the existing wastewater treatment plant, currently operating on the 16-acre parcel south of the bridge, to the Vero Beach Regional Airport within five years – a move that would accommodate development of that property for recreational purposes.

The city has agreed to lease 2.5 acres of that site to the Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County for future development of a Vero Beach Community Sailing Center, which would include construction of a two-story building, floating docks and a small boat launch.

As for the former Post Office Annex site – 4.5 acres on the southwest corner of 17th Street and Indian River Boulevard – the city has agreed to lease more than half of it to FPL for its substation.

The remaining nearly 2 acres on that corner are available for immediate development, the brochure states.

“The city has a very specific plan in mind, and people who might be interested in this development need to understand what they’re getting into,” Krasnow said.